Data Merge from InDesign to unique filenames – now a reality

Ever since I published the article “Breaking up is hard to do… InDesign files into individual PDFs that is!” on Colecandoo, it has been one of the most searched for and popular stories on this site.

I have also written two articles for InDesignSecrets particularly relating to Data Merge and unique filenames: Data Merging Individual Records to Separate PDFs and Data Merging Individual Records to Separate PDFs Part 2: via Scripting. While these methods work, I felt that there had to be a better way to accomplish the task.

Since returning from PEPCON 2015, I have been busy creating a javascript solution to the problem. The script is now at a stage where I am pleased with the results and would like to begin beta testing the script.

nothingselectedThe script is a user interface that is designed to work when ready to merge the records. The script:

  • Merges to uniquely named PDF or InDesign files;
  • Uses information from csv or txt in the Data Merge to create the filenames;
  • Creates web-safe filenames;
  • Provides warnings about duplicate filenames, missing images or overset text;
  • Can merge one record, a range, or all records in the database

Here are some more screenshots of the script:

resultsbadduplicatefinishedIf you are interested in trying the beta of this script, contact me via my requests page.

Script: export an InDesign file to split PDF ranges

For the last month, I’ve been feverishly working away on some Data Merge javascripts that will ultimately answer the question that is commonly asked on the Adobe Forums – is there any way to Data Merge to uniquely named PDFs directly from InDesign? I can tell you now that the answer is yes… but developing a one-size fits all solution that will keep everybody happy is another matter!

Even though these scripts aren’t being released just yet, the research did yield some information that could be applied in another script that is as equally sought-after – the ability to export an InDesign file directly to split PDFs. There are many that can export directly to single pages, but not many (if any at all) that can export a PDF from InDesign directly to PDFs that allow the user to choose how many pages long each PDF should be. Well now there is!

exportscreengrabIt’s simple to use. Open the InDesign file, run the script and the following dialog will appear. Just choose where you want the PDFs, what preset to use and how many pages each PDF should be, and click OK!

Better still, it’s FREE!

Download the script from this link.

Any feedback concering this script is greatly appreciated. If you would like to more information about the Data Merge scripts that are in development, contact me on twitter: #colecandoo.

Now you see it, now you don’t… why?

Several posts ago I wrote a piece concerning Acrobat XI and its ability to undock the comments panel so that it could be moved away from the right hand side of the screen. This had advantages when scrolling the list of comments, as to get to the comments further down the list you have to use the slider (that can sometimes miss comments if scrolled too far) or single-click the arrow at the bottom of the scrollbar, and this can inadvertently:

  • Invoke my Dock to pop up on my mac;
  • Invoke a “hot corner” action on my mac that is set to the bottom right of the screen;
  • Inadvertently open an email alert that pops up via Microsoft Outlook (alerts pop up on the bottom right of the screen).

Read the full article here.

The solution was to click on a button within the commenting panel that would allow the list to be undocked. Here is how it used to look in Acrobat XI:

trackalts2However, in Acrobat DC, the “Undock Comment List” is no more!


There is no ability to change this in the Commenting Preferences either.

This might seem like a rather obscure feature, but when working with marked-up PDFs as a workflow it is a handy feature to have that will save lots of time.

Fortunately, the ability to view comments that were unchecked does remain… for now!

However, I am less than impressed so far with Acrobat DC, and this is largely due to the way it was released. When the product was made live via Creative Cloud, Acrobat DC appeared as an upgrade, but what wasn’t apparent is that uninstalled the existing version of Acrobat! Luckily there were other users that experienced this before me and had tweeted about it:

taketh3For most users, this may not have been a problem, but my version of Acrobat was also running a paid plug-in and had several scripts that had modified the user interface menus, such as the ability to reverse the page order or collate another PDF into the currently opened PDF. So installing Acrobat DC would have completely deleted these enhancements, and meant putting them back on… and in the case of the plug-in, would have meant purchasing the new version (there was no free update to work with Acrobat DC), and waiting until it was available!

To be fair to Adobe, they have now amended the installation process and introduced a checkbox that is ticked on by default that says “Remove old versions”. I’m glad we’re now given a warning and an option, however I think the default of that option should be ticked OFF.

That said, Adobe have received the message loud and clear not to do it again. I say that as an attendee of the PEPCON 2015 Conference in Philadelphia, where attendees met the Adobe InDesign engineers on day three for a general questions and answers session, where this (and many other suggestions) were passed directly onto the team.

Unfortunately, it came a little too late for the find font panel in CC2015. Mike Rankin at posted this piece on the sudden disappearance of icons in the find font menu of Adobe InDesign that many in prepress find invaluable.

See it at the final size… finally!

Two previous Colecandoo articles (part one and part two) discussed the inability of InDesign to control the view size and appearance of PDFs that were exported using the Adobe PDF export function from the file menu.

Since the June release of Adobe InDesign CC 2015, this is no longer an issue. As part of the PDF export dialog box, a new “viewing” portion has been added to the interface that allows for the view size and the layout.

exportpdf1It is worth noting though that the compatibility dropdown of the PDF export options must be set to Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5) before this feature will fully display all options in the layout dropdown field. If the compatibility dropdown is set to Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or lower, then two of the layout options – Two-Up (Facing) and Two-Up (Cover Page) – will be greyed out.

exportpdf2It is great that this feature has been added to the PDF export interface. Let us see if future releases of InDesign CC can also incorporate other PDF export features such as:

  • Ability to create and export PDF comments directly in an InDesign file; and
  • More support for PDF forms.

Just to find fault however, I have noticed that the Pages portion of the PDF export Dialog box has NOT incorporated a change that was made to the print dialog box, and that was the inclusion of the option for “current page”.


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